Two days ago, I was back on this stage, this beautiful and raked stage of the Palais Garnier. The rake seemed steeper than in my memory. Anyway, there’s still something magical about this stage.
We were having our first stage rehearsal of BlakeWorks I, that we will be shortly performing in the program Sugimoto/Forsythe in Garnier, from 19th September to 15th October 2019. This program will be the opening performance of the season. This means we will be performing it in the opening gala for the major sponsors of the Paris Opera Ballet too, on 20th September.
For the first time since I entered the company, I will actually dance in this opening gala! This gala is always started with a Défilé du Corps de Ballet, which is a traditional way to open the season at the Paris Opera. I walked down the stage from the Foyer de la Danse quite a few times in this gala, but haven’t properly performed in it yet. How exciting this is!
Seemingly, I will be performing in all the 17 performances in this William Forsythe ballet that I love. Forsythe movements are constantly in search of the extreme physical possibilities and qualities, and of showing beautiful lines of the body. It is often very musical and very pleasant to dance.
I should fully enjoy every bit of these performances. Feeling very grateful for all of this.
Last Tuesday, the partnership between the Paris Opera and Le Coq Sportif was officially launched over a cocktail party at the headquarters of the French sportswear brand. Le Coq Sportif created a new collection of sweatsuit that is designed for dancers.
We first received Le Coq Sportif products for our last tour to Asia. The dancers seemed to be happy to receive free sweatsuits with good quality and that are comfortable to wear.
The venue where the respective directors gave a speech is a rooftop area with very nice views. We had a very nice evening there.
8th September at 20:11, at the airport of Düsseldorf, waiting for boarding:
At this moment of time, I just turned 23. I only acknowledge my birthday by now, now that all the work is done and that there’s a moment of calmness, waiting in front of gate B79. Indeed, most of my birthday was spent in a studio, for no less than 10 hours inside, for a video shooting. It was truly a great experience. Meeting other dancers, learning and dancing new materials over the weekend, communicating closely to the whole team….. the process was very much eye-opening.
Just two days ago, I was at l’Agence France Press (l’AFP) in Paris for a photo shooting. It was a special one. The photographer was a true artist. He doesn’t know ballet but captures the moments that he finds interesting through his own point of view. He plays with the lightings and a few unexpected accessories, setting simple dance poses in a piece of artwork. For me, that hour in the studio was another great experience.
The airport just announced that my flight back to Paris is delayed for 15 min…. I must admit that I am tired and can’t wait to be back.
9th September at 9:35 am, at home in Paris:
On the first day, we first rehearsed at the ballet studios at Ballett am Rhein. It is a new and modern building with quite a few spacious studios.
We spent the day in this studio learning the 9-minutes long choreography, trying out different steps and movements, but also the make up that they will apply on my back…. which is…. quite impressive!
On the next day, we went to the cubic studios for the filming. the studio is a space painted all in white, it creates like an illusion when you first discover it. You’d have no idea how big the space is, the white covers up all signs of borders/edges/corners.
Then came the 10-hours of filming. It was a challenge because the choreography was freshly learnt. I had to be extra focused in order to avoid mistakes and to show movement qualities. The white colour didn’t help neither, it was hard to find the balance when surrounded by all the white!
It was however a very fun experience. The choreography is very modern and conceptual. While filming, you have the feeling of being in a different world, far from the reality and everyday life, in a moment and space where you let speak your imagination, artistry and emotions.
Weather is very pleasant in Paris this week: Sunny, the sky is blue, 22 to 24 degrees, perfect. After class this morning at Palais Garnier, I went to the Berthe Morisot exhibition at Musée d’Orsay.
Berthe Morisot is a female impressionism painter (1841 – 1895). She was a member of the circle of impressionists in Paris and was the only woman in that group. She is much less popular than the other impressionists such as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pissarro, Renoir…… etc. Yet, Critic Paul Mantz wrote in his review of the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877: “There is only one true Impressionist in the whole revolutionary group—and that is Mlle Berthe Morisot.” Here are some of my favorite picks from the exhibition.
If ballet is an art from, it is also extremely demanding physically. Dancers must regularly train their body in order to maintain a certain technical level. Through this training process over the years, there’s at least one thing that I learnt from my own experience:
The path to get to the goal may seem discouragingly long, but once we find the key, it often turns out to be easier than we thought.
After many years of training, dancers usually know what feels right and what doesn’t while dancing. For instance in ballet, we always work on the turn-out. Certain muscle groups are responsible for turning the legs outwards (for example the inner-thighs), and others not so much (the quadriceps). Dancers usually know when we are using the right forces or not while dancing. On a bad day, we may feel the quadriceps a little too much and we’d be annoyed.
These sensations come and go. When the muscles and forces are correctly coordinated, dancing would seem effortless, enjoyable. Otherwise, even a simple plié or dégagé would feel…. wrong.
The sweet sensations may leave you for a long period of time. You may feel dancing everyday with the wrong forces, developing the wrong muscles, doing the wrong techniques, and you would feel discouraged, hopeless, wondering whether those once-felt sensations would ever come back, or has the body changed, that physically it is not possible anymore. The goal would seem so far away from you and almost unreachable. “Why can’t I do it or feel it anymore!??”
Because ballet movements are not quite natural, it takes time and effort for the body to adapt to them. When you are a ballet student, it is not so much of a big deal. Ballet teachers are there to accompany every student in this research. Whereas in a ballet company, with daily rehearsals and classes, we don’t really have the choice. Even when everything feels just wrong, we have to continue dancing. Certainly it doesn’t feel good, but as long as we don’t understand why, we have no choice but to keep dancing. It is pretty depressing in that case…
Fortunately, the answer to the question, the “key”, would eventually come. It may be as simple as a correction given by a teacher, a stretch that we used to do but that we had not been doing anymore, and the right sensations, the inner-thighs, the technique, would come back altogether so instantly again.
When facing a seemingly insurmountable problem, instead of feeling desperate and discouraged, maybe have faith that a “key” would one day come?
So after a quite a long time spent in Asia, for two and a half months, I am back to this Parisian-ballet life, back to reading in the metro line number 9 every morning while heading to the Opera, ballet classes and rehearsals at the Palais Garnier, feeling excited at grocery shopping on the way home, walking on the streets in Paris surrounded by Haussmann buildings.
I started rehearsing in Forsythe’s BlakeWorks I, it is the same piece that we did in Singapore and in Shanghai. So it is no big challenge. The new season started smoothly and calmly. Seemingly, I will be dancing in the same spot as in Asia Tour, maybe even in the opening night of the season. How exciting!
To know more about this production:
Two days ago, by myself, I walked into the “Departures” gate at the Hong Kong international airport again. After all these years, it was still hard to leave my parents, not knowing in how much time exactly I would see them again.
“Paris, again. Eight years ago, I arrived by this very same Charles de Gaule airport, and discovered the city of Paris. Today, this place feels more like home than ever, I am home.”, I thought in the taxi, on the way to the 16th arrondissement.
Vacation in Hong Kong went well, yet Hong Kong was under unprecedented pressure. For more than a month, TV news and radio talked about nothing but the protests against the now suspended extradition bill. People could hardly keep from talking about it. Opinions were often opposed and arguments inevitable.
A few more days before starting a new season with the Paris Opera Ballet. The past few months, the Asia Tour, Singapore then Shanghai, Taipei trip, vacation in Hong Kong, different encounters…..etc. brought me a lot of new ideas, thoughts and new perspectives. This coming year, I fully intend to live it a little differently.
Firstly, after a few months of careful reflection, I decided to complete my master degree in business management later on, and to fully concentrate on my dancing career first. This means that I will have much more free time to fill in than the past two years. From playing the piano, to investments, to reading, to dance performances, to art exhibitions….etc. I seem to have so many interests, and there is too much that I’d like to learn.
Like the majority of the world population, I have been using social medias (for instance Facebook and Instagram) for many years now. This summer, I came to the conclusion that it is incredibly unhealthy! Yes, “unhealthy” is the word. Time consuming, addictive, bad-quality and sometimes fake information, scrolling Facebook is not bringing me anywhere I want to be. Let’s use social medias wisely.
Overthinking and fear have been holding me back from doing the right things. In the coming year, I hope to have the courage to overcome this fear and do what is right with confidence.
Those are the goals for the coming year!